The Joy of Purim

On the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, that is the twelfth month, Jews exiled and scattered around the world, from India to Cush celebrated Purim. It was ‘the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration’ (Esther 9:22). Before this, all that the Jews knew was sorrow upon sorrow, trouble upon trouble, misfortune upon misfortune, and oppression upon oppression. All hope seemed to hit a wall, and even threatened to make things worse that Queen Esther, a Jew, remarks, ‘And if I perish, I perish’ (4:v16). You see, Queen Esther was made Queen by divine favour, ‘but had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do’ (2:v20). It was not a good time to be a Jew, and so Mordecai her cousin, who had brought her up ‘because she had neither father nor mother’ (v7), was the only family she knew. Her parents had died and by divine providence, she became Queen, because ‘the king was attracted to Esther more than any of the other women, and she won his favour and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti’ (v17).

Things seemed to look up not only for Esther, but for her people. The Jews who were in a foreign land, oppressed, and a minority, finally had one of their people sitting on the throne as Queen. Although she did not disclose her nationality, Esther and Mordecai knew that it was not in vain that she was Queen. The reason was soon revealed, after a decree had been sent out to annihilate all the Jews on the false charge that, their ‘customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them’ (3:v8). Again, trouble found the Jews. Mordecai is first to receive the news and tells it to Esther so that she can do something about it, as Queen. But there is one problem. ‘All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned to the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold sceptre to him and spare his life’ (4:v11). So, Esther could not approach the King, because as she recounts, ‘thirty days have passed since I was called to go the king’ (v11). Another road block.

However, Mordecai quickly reminds Esther that, ‘Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?’ (v13-14). Either way, Esther faced death, and so she decides to approach the King after she and the Jews in the Province of Susa fasted for three days. When she approached the King, ‘he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold sceptre that was in his hand’ (5:v2). After two days, Esther proceeds to tell the King about the plan by Haman, ‘the enemy of the Jews’ (3:v10), to exterminate all her people. In fact, when Haman and his supporters casted ‘pur (that is, the lot)’ (v7), to select a day in which to exterminate all the Jews, ‘the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar’ (v7). But when Esther exposed his plan to the King, he greatly displeased and ordered Haman to be hanged. Haman’s wife and advisors had even previously said to him, ‘Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him– you will surely come to ruin!’ (6:v13). Sure enough, Haman and his plans came to ruin. He was hanged and his estate was given to Esther. Mordecai was elevated and became ‘second in rank to King Xerxes, pre-eminent among the Jews and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews’ (10:v3).

Believers are spiritual Jews, for ‘a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly’ (Romans 2:29). We are those exiled on the face of the earth and scattered across various nations, and face the same threat as the Jews in Queen Esther’s time. Jesus even tells us, ‘I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices’ (John 16:20). He adds, ‘you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me’ (Matthew 24:9). Sorrow, distress, and persecution is the lot of the Christian in this world. An edict already has been sent out by the enemy of our souls, the devil, to wipe us out. He casted the lot at the early stages of our existence, when he lured the first man to sin (hostility to God) and death (separation from God). Luckily, our story does not end there, because the joy of Purim was restored, just like the Jews who were granted ‘the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate any armed force of any nationality or province that might attack them and their women and children; and to plunder the property of their enemies’ (Esther 8:11). ‘The day appointed for the Jews to do this was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar’ (v12). In the exact month and one day before their decreed extermination, the Jews were granted the right to triumph over their enemies. ‘On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overcome them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them’ (9:v1). And thus, they celebrated Purim for two days every yearas a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other (v19).

In a similar way, Jesus tells spiritual Jews, ‘You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy . . . So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice’ (John 16:20,22). Unlike the Purim of old, the Purim for the spiritual Jews is manifold. It started when Jesus ‘cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us’ (Colossians 2:14). Just like the King revoked the first decree against the Jews by ordering another one to be written, Jesus revoked the first decree of our eternal damnation when ‘he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross’ (v14-15). His decree of eternal life now stands to all who believe in Him. Finally, we have received mercy and justice, as the enemy of our souls has had his head crushed. The joy of Purim is our portion, because Jesus ‘bestow(ed) on (us) a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair’ (Isaiah 61:3). Tables have turned, because the enemy ‘intended to harm (us), but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives’ (Genesis 50:20).

Unlike the Purim of old, Purim for Believers is not an annual affair celebrated for two days. It is an everyday affair. While Purim was celebrated at the last month as a time of joy, the joy of the spiritual Jew began before the foundation of the world, and continues even unto the end of the ages. It is a celebration all year round and every day of our lives, because of what Jesus accomplished, is accomplishing, and will accomplish until the end of time. Our Purim is both now and forever. Amen. That is why Jesus says, ‘Your joy no man shall take from you’ (John 16:22). The joy of Purim is felt daily in the lives of Believers, because ‘we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28). It is the joy of Purim that makes every Christian ‘consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us’ (v18). Any enemy that comes against us only comes to ruin, for we ‘have overcome them: because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world’ (1 John 4:4). In fact, Jesus says of His followers, ‘He who listens to you listens to me; he who despises you despises me; and he who despises me despises him who sent me’ (Luke 10:16). So, Believers are protected by God, so that no power or no person can stand against us. Even while exiled on earth and wait for Jesus to be revealed in all His glory, we ‘Restrain (our) voice from weeping and (our) eyes from tears’ (Jeremiah 31:16), for everyday is a ‘day sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10). For the joy of Purim is with us, both now and forever! Hallelujah!

‘We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make your joy complete’ ~ 1 John 1:3:4

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